Masks from the Past

a range of colourful neon tiles with black and white mask drawings in a grid.

Travel back in time to try out masks from the past

Mask Filter QR code

The POP team are very pleased to launch the first POP Mask Filter, available on Instagram.

Masks are more than you might think.

A wide wonderful range of masks have been invented for centuries. We’ve made a selection of them available to try out and try on…

Scan the QR code to be taken to the POP Mask Filter on Instagram.

What is your mask mood?

–  Find out what an 1887 nose warmer looked like or an 1897 storm mask.

– Try on a 1912 sun shield or a 1915 mosquito veil.

– Check out a 1916 dentist deflector or a 1917 surgeon’s snorkel.

Thousands of masks have been invented over the last century for a remarkable range of reasons.

POP’s new mask filter is a methodological experiment to digitally try on historical masks from the patent archive.

All of them are inventions and each inventor sets out to solve a problem.

And each of these problems, and their remarkable solutions, tells us something about the people who lived before us, what concerned them and what they cared about.

They invite us to reflect on what is happening now – how some things have radically changed, while some aspects of social life are surprising similar.

What kinds of masks have been invented?

Masks have been invented for a plethora of problems.

  • They respond to issues of weather – too hot or too cold, too windy or too wet.
  • They have professionally equipped (some) workers – in mines, surgeries, underwater, in space. (though click [here] for a discussion about who has not been equipped)
  • They protect people who protect others – for life saving, fire fighting, ship wreck rescue.
  • They disguise faces for masquerade balls and privacy.
  • They can also simply help wearers avoid what must have been lung busting stench of people’s  breath 100 years ago….. for dentists, barbers and surgeons (check out the snorkel and breath deflector or what we call a handy nose trumpet).

And much more….

3x images of a woman using the mask filter

Research + design collaboration

The POP digital mask filter is the result of a research design collaboration.

We worked  with the hugely talented fashion designer Yi Liu, whose practice revolves around play and narratives in the digital sphere. They are the co-founder of the multidisciplinary design studio 2297<3 with Peijing Lu. Yi’s work spans from fashion, 3D and object design, creative direction, visual merchandising, spatial design to design of AR experiences. ‘Everyday’ , ‘Interactive’ & ‘Entertaining’ are three keywords that underpin all 2297<3’s design work.  They extract elements from everyday life, distort, remake and post-produce to create designs that the user can interact and play with. ‘To create something fun’ is the drive for every design they do.

Together, we’ve created a randomly generated Instagram filter, based on a selection of mask patents we’ve found in the archive. You can find the filter on the Politics Of Patents Instagram page or scan the QR code at the top of the blog post.

Try it out and let us know what you think….